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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cream Scones

A couple weeks ago Vera, Corinne, and I got together for a girl's brunch and craft day -- we each brought our own craft projects to work on for the day and started off with breakfast and chit chat.

I was really excited about making brunch for us - here was my menu:
Cream scones with fresh whipped cream and jam
Mushroom and goat cheese frittata
cucumber water
champagne with orange sherbet

Today, I'm just sharing the cream scones... I'll have the other recipe soon.

Every now and then I feel like you just hit it out of the park with an awesome gluten free recipe and I nailed it with these cream scones! 

*please please please make real whipped cream for these - its too easy not to and the flavor is just unbelievable.  And it's always worth using good jam - this is some plum jam that Vera made and brought with her. 

Cream Scones:

Sift into a large bowl - 
1 3/4 cups Domata Flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Then using a pastry cutter, fork, or your hands - cut in 1/4 cup (half a stick) of COLD butter. 
The mixture should resemble small crumbs.

Then add & mix throughly 
2 eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream

The mixture should combine to create a nice medium firm dough - not super sticky.  If it seems really sticky, add just a little bit of flour, if really dry, just a bit more cream. 

Shape the dough into a round disk and place on a baking sheet (I covered mine in foil).  Then use a knife to score the individual scones.  You should get 6 large scones from this recipe.  Brush the dough with an egg wash (in a small bowl combine 1 beaten egg with a tablespoon of water) and sprinkle with sugar, use coarse raw sugar if you have it for texture.  

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes!

Let the scones cool completely. 

Serve with cream and jam. 


I hope you enjoy these... yum :)

Always, J

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Udi's Toast & Oatmeal

Tea, toast, and oatmeal will always always be my favorite breakfast.  

I've had a love affair with oatmeal since day one.  I can't remember a single moment in my life when I didn't love oatmeal.  As a child, it was listed on every grade school paper as my favorite food, I wrote about it in poems, and I doodled about it in art class.

When I was diagnosed with Celiac's - I was terrified that I was no longer going to be able to eat oatmeal... I went almost an entire year without it.  Then I started eating specifically gluten free oatmeal that I bought at a gluten free expo... then I tried regular oatmeal.  It seems I'm one of the lucky few that doesn't have a reaction to oats... as long as I don't eat it too often.  So now it's even more special, just a treat every couple weeks.  

Some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it in a pot nine days old --- I'll honestly eat it any way I can get it... and I'm not fancy, I'll even eat it plain.  When I was studying abroad in Japan (pre-diagnosis), I had taken about 3 full boxes of the individual packages in my luggage and I would mix it into a cold bottle of water because I heard rumors we would have to eat tomatoes for breakfast - no thanks!!  Everyone made fun of me, but I was a happy camper... I had my cold watered down oatmeal :)

But the very best, was breakfast in India (also pre-diagnosis), huge pots of oatmeal, piping hot darjeeling tea, toast, and hot-salted hard boiled eggs.  I could eat that breakfast everyday for the rest of my life - actually I could probably eat that for every meal everyday for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy.  I like to dip my toast in the delicious.

Thankfully Udi's has made this all possible.  I've been eating Udi's bread for the last couple years - it's honestly the only ONLY gluten free bread I will even consider.  It's delicious, the texture is perfect, it's great toasted or un-toasted (which is incredible in the gluten free world), and now it comes in a couple different varieties.  

Up until recently, I had only been eating the white bread... which is great.  But Udi's sent me a sample of the Whole Grain - changed my life holy cow!!  It's everything you could ever want in a bread.  Finally, a gluten free bread with not only the texture of real bread but actually has heafty grain texture (that's probably not the best way to describe it) - it really has a beautiful consistency like whole grain bread you would buy at the farmers market.  It rocked my breakfast!!

The best thing about Udi's bread... you can do anything with it... just like regular bread!!  French toast, bread pudding, toast, sandwiches, eat it plain... and whatever else you use bread for!  

I've started saving my end pieces in the freezer, I plan to cook up some croutons one of these days!

Have you tried Udi's yet??

Locally, you can buy Udi's at Trader Joes and HyVee... maybe other places but those are the only stores I grocery shop.  You can also order most all of their products online for shipping to your home.


Always, J

*I was not paid for this post, but Udi's sent me a sample product to test.  These opinions are completely my own.

Blogtember 09242013

prompt:: book review 

Books I've read in the past two-ish weeks::

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro - This is the book I mentioned a week or so ago about the Isabella Gardner Museum heist, the fiction version.  It involves a completely fictional story laced into the true story of the heist - very little of this book is actually true and it sort of clouded my view of events because the book was so well written.  A very fast read because of the twists and turns of unexpected events and very well researched.  Honestly I would suggest reading the non-fiction version first.

The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser - This is the factual version of the heist and follows Boser's investigation into the crime through the interviews with the main art investigator.  When he dies in 2005 - Boser takes on the case and his files to continue meeting his contacts and following leads.  A great coverage of events from multiple perspectives however anti-climatic because this is still an unsolved case.  Also, which I should have paid attention to in the beginning - this book was published in 2010 so at this point, it's old news.  I haven't followed it much - but there might be more information out there in the last two-three years.  Another great art crime book is Priceless by Robert K Wittman - if this sort of thing interests you!

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott - I came across this book by accident.  I'm a sucker for marketing - I was at Barnes and Noble when I saw an end cap featuring "if you like this book - you'll like this one..."  Well... it said "if you like the Harry Potter series - you might like this..."  Honestly, I was thinking, absolutely not.  There is no way this is comparable.  But I of course bought it anyways because I've decided (based on nothing) that I need to read more fiction because it's good for my creative thought process.  The book is definitely good - it's no Harry Potter and I actually had a hard time believing anything in the book (but it's fiction right?!).  It's so strange that I can read HP over and over and over and take it 100% at face value as real magic - for some reason it's just believable for me and I love it.  This was just a little different although I did enjoy all the references to existing myths, lore, and legend and how they interwove actual historical events into the story.  I will probably read the rest of the series.  Stepping out of our comfort zone is good right?

The Race for Relevance by Coerver and Byers - Anyone who serves on a board, is part of a non-profit, an association member, does membership development, or participates in a community organization should read this book.  It covers strategies and analysis for why associations are losing members and how positive changes to the model can save membership.  It's mostly written from a professional association perspective but is applicable across all organizations involving a membership basis.

What I'm reading today::

Twelve Patients (Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital) by Eric Manheimer - This is quite the page turner!  It's from the perspective of Dr. Eric Manheimer who served as the director of medicine for Bellevue Hospital in New York City for more than a decade.  He relays stories of a number of patients and even his own personal story of being a patient in his own hospital.  He interweaves socio-economic concepts of poverty, immigration, obesity, and healthcare costs with each story beautifully describing the diversity of the american population and the challenges we face.  I got through about half this book yesterday and should be finishing it up today!  It's really great.

On my to-read list::

Plus I'm hoping to pick up some good ideas from the other blog posts today because I'm heading out on vacation Saturday and will definitely need some reading material!! 

What are you reading??

Always, J

Monday, September 23, 2013


It's that time of year!  Although I made this applesauce quite a few weeks ago - I figured it was time to brush up on my apple skills.  

*these apples came in my CSA bag and they are called "cooking" apples - I was a little hesitant about the texture but they turned out perfect. 

*I should have used a bigger pot :) - I did switch later...

So this isn't really a recipe - I just felt my way along when I was making this... I'm sure there are legit applesauce recipes out there and you should probably consult them.  But here's how I did it ::

One:: wash up your apples - however many.
two:: dice them into medium sized pieces and into a cooking pot.  I chose not to peel them because I was looking for some chunk / texture.
three:: add the juice of two lemons and the zest to the diced apples - then add water to the pot until they're just covered.  
four:: bring to a boil.
five:: depending on your liquid level - you should be ready to go.  Just mash up the apples.  These apples were a little strange because they only cooked about 2-3 minutes and were completely soft and the skins actually turned really delicious.  Depending on how hard your apples are it might take longer. If you have excess water in your pot just let it boil longer or skim it off the top. 
six:: add your seasoning - sweeten it with some local raw honey, then for spice - cinnamon, cardamon, and a little vanilla.  You could really play around with the spices.

I ate some of my applesauce right away on oatmeal and the rest I froze to use later.

I also now have a ton of apples from the Applejack festival in Nebraska City so I'm thinking about more applesauce and apple dishes.  

Applesauce is incredibly versatile -
-add to oatmeal
-use as a topping on pancakes or waffles 
-pork loves apples, maybe as sauce on a tenderloin
-use in baked goods
-applesauce cake

I hope you try making some!!


Always, J

Blogtember 09232013

prompt:: life lately

My life is best displayed in photos... a few of my favorites from "lately"

I love bees....because bees make honey!!!

All the cool kids have these key chains mine.

A beautiful and controversial new exhibit by Mel Zigler at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts... my first opening attendance in almost a year.

Oh it's Chili making season again!

Spent last Saturday at the Applejack Festival in historic Nebraska City, Nebraska.

my apple partner!  Vera :)

Black Walnut grove at Arbor Day Farms.

I. love. pancakes.

Happy Monday everyone!! 

Enjoy :)

Always, J

Friday, September 20, 2013


Happy Friday!

Linking up with Lauren :)

one:: my mom and I went to the Michael Buble concert last Friday night - I was really surprised how amazing it was!!  I really didn't know what to expect but the show was really impressive and the orchestra was fantastic!  I'm a fan now :)

two:: Corinne and I were twinsies for the husker game on Saturday!! Didn't even plan it - great minds just think alike...

three:: you can't ignore a sushi craving - it just starts to drive you crazy.  Thankfully Corinne was up for sushi and we feasted at Ponzu to help heal the pain of the terrible husker loss. (full restaurant review coming soon!)

four:: finally got caught up with Hannah for a long over due friend lunch this week!  And of course we headed to Jason's Deli - the BEST lunch place.  I especially love that they use Udi's bread for their gluten free sandwiches!!  Also - soup was in order for the cool fall weather we had that day, yum!

five:: I'm just realizing how many food photos I have this week!  I do love food and I guess I sort of ate out quite a bit this week (oops!!).  This trips to Blue Orchid was extra special because it was a celebration - not that I need any excuse to head there, it's honestly my absolute favorite restaurant ON EARTH.  *I'll have a full post late next week on my good news :)

six:: My new job shoes... I guess that's spilling the beans but I'll give full details later :)

I hope you had a fantastic week!!

Always, J

Blogtember 09202013

Prompt:: react to the term - comfort

So yea, I'm getting in on this pretty late... I honestly had every intention of participating in this blog every day project because I love the May challenge so much - but well you've seen how my blogging in September has gone so far... (cough cough).  Anyways I figured I'd go out with a bang and at least get in on the last week of the project!  Better late than never right?! 


Comfort can mean so many things... I'm currently sitting in my favorite coffee shop, in an enormous chocolate colored leather chair that I'm deeply sunk into, warm and cozy, drinking a hot chai latte, wearing my favorite yellow fall sweater... oh and it's pouring rain outside.  I'm about as comfortable as I can possibly get at this exact moment in time. 

But I'm also feeling more comfortable than I have felt in weeks maybe months... mentally and emotionally... I'm feeling incredibly happy.  I'm feeling comfortable in my place in life - comfortable in my skin and comfortable in my future.  And it feels good.  

I'll be sharing more on this soon... when the time is right :)  But rest assured - the future is bright!!

Always, J

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Easy Pesto!

Vera and I made pesto a couple weekends ago... a lot of pesto!

Here's our simple recipe:

1/3 cups of nuts*
roughly 3 cups of basil
the zest of one lemon
2-5 cloves of fresh garlic (your preference)
1/2 cup of hard grated cheese*
1/2 cup-ish of good quality olive oil 

blend in a food processor or blender until you have a beautiful green sauce.  You might need more or less olive oil depending on the actual amount of basil you use.

*Pesto is great because you can really play around with the ingredients.  Pinenuts are the traditional nut used in this sauce but they are ridiculously expensive - even at Trader Joe's so Vera and I made a couple batches with almonds and a couple with walnuts both turned out amazing!  Personally I'm not a huge fan of walnuts but the walnut pesto was really my favorite.  

We also used grated parmesan in a couple batches and pecorino romano with the walnuts - it was fun to see how all the flavors paired together.  We made 4 total different batches - one walnut, one walnut extra garlic (both walnut batches used pecorino romano cheese), one almond, and one almond extra garlic (both almond batches used parmesan cheese).  From each batch we averaged about 4 portions of sauce which really covers a full bag of pasta - so we have A LOT of pesto!!  Thankfully it freezes really well.

*fun fact - you can't can pesto sauce due to the lack of acid in the sauce.  Vera did her research!  So we decided using ziplock freezer containers would be the best way to go - originally we wanted to can the sauce so we could give it as gifts but it just didn't work out like that.  However, the sauce can be defrosted slowly and can be in a refrigerator state for about a week before the sauce would spoil.  Also you will notice its not quite as bright green after being in the freezer as when it came out of the food processor but the taste is still amazing!!

Other ideas for pesto ingredients:: cilantro, spinach, or mint... the options are limitless!

This isn't a fantastic photo - but the other night I was looking for a quick dinner so I grabbed some of my frozen gnocchi and set a container of my pesto in some warm water to thaw quickly (I only used about 1/3 of the container and re-froze the rest).  The frozen gnocchi just need to be boiled for about 5 minutes (once it floats - it's done!).  Tossed the gnocchi in the pesto and sprinkled a bit of parm on top - perfect dinner in about 15 minutes!!

Pesto really is super easy to make wether you grow your own basil or just pick some up at the farmers market - there's just something incredible about this sauce!  I'm in love with it!!

Ooh and it's not just for pasta...
*Use it as a marinade/cooking sauce for chicken
*dipping sauce for crusty gluten free bread
*Mix-in for hummus
*sauce/relish for a sandwich
*sauce on pizza
*marinade for shrimp
*add to mashed potatoes or cauliflower 
*salad dressing

Anything really!

Enjoy!! :)

Always, J

Monday, September 16, 2013

Salmon at Lisa's

I'm probably the happiest person that summer is finally wrapping up... however the only good thing about summer is evening cookouts with friends.  A couple weeks ago - I was invited over to my friend Lisa's for a beautiful salmon feast!

Lisa's husband Lonny grilled up the salmon on cedar planks - can't beat that flavor!!

There's nothing better than grilled pineapple - and shrimp is a perfect appetizer.

Ahh look at that spread!!

Cedar plank salmon, cucumber salad (that's what I brought to contribute), grilled pineapple and shrimp, and cilantro lime rice.  Perfect!! 

Also I brought chocolate covered bananas for dessert!  This was really a great dessert to bring because it travels so well :) 

If someone invited you over to dinner - don't be afraid to accept just because you're gluten free.  If they're a close friend obviously they will know your situation and understand so work with them for the menu.  Lisa was very considerate of my gluten free needs and we talked through what she was using for the salmon marinade and how to prepare the rice.  Also I always bring a dish or two to contribute when I'm invited somewhere especially if I'm asking them to make special considerations for me.  If these are new friends or acquaintances feel free to switch the situation around and invite them for dinner for the first time so you can control the food situation and have a chance to explain to them what it means to be gluten free - then it will be easier the next time they ask to hangout.  But always - if you are unsure of an ingredient or dish, it's safer to just not eat it. Don't be afraid to get in the kitchen and start asking questions - what did you use in that salad dressing?  Can I look at the ingredient list?  What brand of bbq sauce did you use?  What's all in this dip?  If you end up just eating carrots and celery all night - that's ok... treat yourself when you get home.

What's your favorite dish to take to a dinner party?


Always, J

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Friday

And another Friday is upon us!  Yay!! 

And thankfully cooler weather here in Nebraska :)

Linking up with Lauren!

Since I missed last week - I threw in a couple extra photos :)

one:: I spent a wonderful Labor Day with my friends Vera and Ben at Woodcliff lake - could it be any more beautiful?!  We actually had really lovely weather, wonderful food, and great company.  Absolutely relaxing - aside from the massive sunburn Vera got :(

two:: Here's a couple of the books I've read in the last two weeks - I highly recommend all of them.  The Art Forger is about the Isabella Gardner Museum heist and there's actually another book about the same subject that's non-fiction, I'm trying to track it down now.  Normally I would prefer not to read fiction but I started this book accidentally for lack of reading material and was immediately hooked.  The two others are obviously fiction - but I make an excuse for my favorite authors and these are two of the best and it's been quite a while since either of them have had new books.  Hosseini is a beautiful and heart wrenching author - his character development is mind blowing and you will be in tears within the first couple chapters.  I will always be a Dan Brown fan no matter what - I love the books, the movies are completely separate.  Books are always better than movies. (period!).  I tend to devour books quickly and average two to three books a week if not more and am always looking for more... they are my passion aside from food :)

three:: Last Friday was Benson First Friday so a couple of us hit up the scene, first stopping for dinner at the Pizza Shoppe (where they have delicious gluten free pizza!), then stopping to see a friend and local artist Bart Vargas' lastest show at Petshop Gallery before heading for drinks.  Always great to catch up with friends, see the incredible local art scene, and take in the Omaha nightlife.  I live for first Fridays!!

four:: First Friday means the first Saturday of the month ---- i.e.: Bacon and Bourbon at Bench!!  This is such a fun gathering of friends and collaborators.  Ben whips up the best breakfast casserole I've ever eaten (sorry mom!!) and Vera handles the bacon cooking...all served with a selection of the best Iowa whiskeys... can't beat that right?!!  

five:: After Bacon and Bourbon - Vera and I usually head to the Farmer's Market for a little shopping, chatting, and meandering.  I'm loving the fall veggies that are starting to emerge.  This was the first week I've seen squash and pumpkins!!  Yay - I'm much more of a fall person, in fact I'll admit I really hate summer.  So I'm ready - bring on October!!

six:: Saturday was ridiculously busy...Bacon and Bourbon, Farmers Market, then I headed to Lincoln for the Husker game... GO BIG RED!  I was born and raised a husker and I will always be one.  There's nothing like sitting in Memorial Stadium with 93,000 Husker fans screaming their hearts out.  Can you feel it?!!  Oh did I mention it was about 95 degrees and 100% humidity?  Yea... it was a little exhausting, but husker fan are quite the troopers.  Nothing will stop us :)

seven:: I'm still trying (though not incredibly successfully) to be a knitter.  I feel like I've been working on this "scarf" forever... it might be done by christmas. 

eight:: Last night a couple friends came over so I made dinner of course!  I chose an indian theme since it's my favorite cuisine and I've been trying to master the flavors better.  I did a cumin roasted cauliflower with cilantro lime dipping sauce, clove and cinnamon spiced rice (sounds strange but it's really delicious to use them as savory spices), and samosas - which I might say tuned out beautifully!!  I'll have all these recipes posted next week plus a couple others.  

I do apologize for neglecting my blog lately - I really don't have any great excuse and I want to thank all of you who have stayed with me and continued to check my blog!  You all truly mean the world to me and great things are coming!  I promise :)  Plus I have a great pesto recipe to share with you!!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!  My mom and I are off to see Michael Buble tonight :) 

Always, Justine